The Table of Nations: Genesis Chapters 10-11

Genesis Chapters 10 and 11 constitute what is known as "The Table of Nations" in the Bible. The text is as follows,

These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; sons were born to them after the flood. The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the sons of Japheth in their lands, each with his own language, by their families, in their nations.

"Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren."

The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.

Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD." The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria, and built Nineveh, Rehobothir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.

The latter paragraph is the subject of a separate essay as all false religion in the world today can be traced back to Nimrod, the founder of Babylon (in what is today Iraq).

Egypt became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (whence came the Philistines), and Caphtorim. Canaan became the father of Sidon his first-born, and Heth, and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.

These are the sons of Ham, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

"Blessed be the LORD God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant."

To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan. Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east.

These are the sons of Shem, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood."

In Jewish tradition there were 70 original nations after the Flood, corresponding to the 70 names in this chapter. A strange passage in Deuteronomy says:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God (bene elohim, LXX: "angels"). For the LORD's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage... (32:8-9)

The Rabbis relate this to Genesis 46:26-27,

All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own offspring, not including Jacob's sons' wives, were sixty-six persons in all; and the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob, that came into Egypt, were seventy.

The idea here is that Israel's Messiah is to rule over all the nations of the world from Jerusalem during the coming Millennial kingdom Psalm 2, and Isaiah 60 for instance, show this:

Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, "Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill." I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Arise, shine; for your light [Israel] has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms. Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of Nebai'oth shall minister to you; they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious house. Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows? For the coastlands [far distant lands] shall wait for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your sons from far, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has glorified you. Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I smote you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you. Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut; that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish... (Isaiah 60:1-12)

...those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

Formal nations and their boundaries were established after the Flood in the Covenant with Noah. Before the Flood the earth was governed, evidently, by patriarchal family units. The above insights show up in Paul's sermon Mars Hill in Athens:

So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for `In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead." (Acts 17:22-31)

For more on this topic, popular in Jewish tradition and Jewish mysticism, see The Seventy Nations and Languages, the Jewish Encyclopedia.

This information from Genesis 10 is tabulated below:

Genealogical Table of the Descendants of Noah





(Germany, Crimea, Cambria, Celts)
 |  |  Javan
(Ionians, Greeks)
| | |  Cush
|   Canaan  Elam | Arphaxad  |  Aram
 |  Magog
(Georgia, Scythians)
 | | | | |  | |  Phut
|     Asshur |   Lud  |
 |   Maidai
(Medes, Aryans, India) 
|   Tubal
| | Nimrod
(Babylon, Ninevah) 
|  Sidon    |  Salah | Hul 
(Germany, Saxons, Scandavia)
| (Resen)  Ludim  Heth
(Hittites, Cathay)
   | |  |  Gether
(Thrace, Teutons)
Anamim   Jebusite    |  Eber |  Mash 
Lehabim     Amorite   Peleg     Joktan  
 Naphtuhim    Gigashite   |   |   
               Sabtechah  Pathrusim
  Hivite   Reu    Almodad   
  |   Sheleph   
              |  Casluhim
(Sino-, China) 
   Serug    Hazarmaveth  
               Sheba |    Arvadite   |   Jorah   
                Dedan  Philistim   Temarite     Terah    Hadoram  
                     Hamathite   |    Uzal  
                         Abram   Diklah   








"Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, 'Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.' And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth."

These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was a hundred years old, he became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; and Shem lived after the birth of Arpachshad five hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. When Arpachshad had lived thirty-five years, he became the father of Shelah; and Arpachshad lived after the birth of Shelah four hundred and three years, and had other sons and daughters. When Shelah had lived thirty years, he became the father of Eber; and Shelah lived after the birth of Eber four hundred and three years, and had other sons and daughters. When Eber had lived thirty-four years, he became the father of Peleg; and Eber lived after the birth of Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and had other sons and daughters. When Peleg had lived thirty years, he became the father of Reu; and Peleg lived after the birth of Reu two hundred and nine years, and had other sons and daughters. When Reu had lived thirty-two years, he became the father of Serug; and Reu lived after the birth of Serug two hundred and seven years, and had other sons and daughters. When Serug had lived thirty years, he became the father of Nahor; and Serug lived after the birth of Nahor two hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. When Nahor had lived twenty-nine years, he became the father of Terah; and Nahor lived after the birth of Terah a hundred and nineteen years, and had other sons and daughters.

When Terah had lived seventy years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran."


Whenever I read these names, I think of the wretched state of the human race. Even though we have the most excellent gift of reason, we are nevertheless so overwhelmed by misfortunes that we are ignorant not only of our own origin and the lineal descent of our ancestors but even of God Himself, our Creator. Look into the historical accounts of all nations. If it were not for Moses alone, what would you know about the origin of man?...

Of this wretched state, that is, of our awful blindness, we are reminded by the passage before us, which gives us instruction about things that are unknown to the whole world. What do we have about the very best part of the second world besides words, not to mention the first one, which antedated the Flood? The Greeks wanted to have the account of their activities preserved, the Romans likewise; but how insignificant this is in comparison with the earlier times, concerning which Moses has drawn up a list of names in this passage, not of deeds!

Hence one must consider this chapter of Genesis a mirror in which to discern what we human beings are, namely, creatures so marred by sin that we have no knowledge of our own origin, not even of God Himself, our Creator, unless the Word of God reveals these sparks of divine light to us from afar. Then what is more futile than boasting of one's wisdom, riches, power, and other things that pass away completely?

Therefore we have reason to regard the Holy Bible highly and to consider it a most precious treasure. This very chapter, even though it is considered full of dead words, has in it the thread that is drawn from the first world to the middle and to the end of all things. From Adam the promise concerning Christ is passed on to Seth; from Seth to Noah; from Noah to Shem; and from Shem to this Eber, from whom the Hebrew nation received its name as the heir for whom the promise about the Christ was intended in preference to all other peoples of the whole world. This knowledge the Holy Scriptures reveal to us. Those who are without them live in error, uncertainty, and boundless ungodliness; for they have no knowledge about who they are and whence they came.

Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol. 2, pp. 207-209. (Quoted by James Montgomery Boice in his commentary on Genesis, Volume 1.)

Notes on Shem, Ham and Japheth by Ray C. Stedman

...this answers a very widespread distortion of this passage that has been accepted for many, many years which says that the curse fell on the Black people. The mark of it was a black skin, and therefore they are destined to be servants among mankind. But the Canaanites, as far as we know, were not black-skinned people. The curse was wholly fulfilled in Joshua's day when these descendants of Canaan, morally perverted through this evil strain which had survived the flood and now breaks out again in human history, were left alive by Israel. Thus there was loosed in society an evil element which has spread throughout the entire race since, and breaks out in sexual perversions from place to place. This is the biblical explanation for these things.

There is, however, a grain of truth in applying this passage to the Black people. Most powerful lies gain their power from having at least a modicum of truth about them. It is true that the colored peoples of the earth are descendants of Ham, Hamitic people. They come in varying shades: the yellow of the Chinese, the brown of the Indians, the black of the Africans, and even including some that are white-skinned. Now we must turn to the prophetic words uttered by Noah about his sons as to the destiny of their descendants.

He also said [notice how he deliberately sets this apart from what he said about Canaan], "Blessed by the Lord my God he Shem; and let Canaan he his slave. God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan he his slave..."

Here we have the three families of mankind. The family of Ham is represented by Canaan, although not limited to his descendants. In certain of the old versions, in these two verses referring to Canaan, the account reads, "Ham, the father of Canaan," which is probably the more accurate rendering. Now this is a most important passage. We can hardly overrate its importance in understanding the world of our day...

Notice that Shem is given religious primacy among mankind. The Semitic people, the descendants of Shem, were responsible under God to meet the spiritual needs of mankind. That is their role in humanity. It is most striking, isn't it, that the three great religions of earth, which can properly be called religions, all come from the Semitic family: Judaism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity. There is much distortion of truth in these, granted, but the sense of mission by the Semitic families of earth is very evident. This family includes the Jews, the Arabs, certain ancient peoples, as well as other modern groups.

Japheth was promised enlargement. The Japhethic people are, in general, the peoples of India and Europe, the Indo-European stock, with which any demographer is familiar. It is largely from this family that we Americans come. It is most interesting that history has recorded their geographical enlargement. The entire Western hemisphere of our globe is settled by Japhethic peoples, and the Indians (Hindus) are of the same stock. But there is much to suggest in history that the enlargement that is promised here to Japheth is also intellectual. Historically, all the great philosophers are Japhethic. The Greeks, who began modern philosophy, are descendants of Japheth, as we will see in the very next chapter, also the Hindus. The Greeks and the Hindus are the two truly great philosophic races of earth. Some of you may say, "Well, what about Confucius; he was a Hamite?" But Confucius was not a philosopher; he was a teacher of practical ethics. Anyone who studies him will realize how true this is.

There is a very astute Christian scholar, whose writings are privately distributed, who has been a great help to me in various fields of Bible study. His name is Dr. Arthur Custance, from Toronto, Ontario, to whom I am greatly indebted for some of these concepts. He takes the phrase, "let him [Japheth] dwell in the tents of Shem" as predictive of the Cross, when the spiritual guidance of humanity passed from the Jews to the Gentiles, i.e., to the Japhethic family. To Shem was given the primacy of religious teaching, but there comes a time when Japheth enters that field ("dwells in the tents of Shem"), and philosophy (which is essentially Japhethic) was married to theology. This has been the case since the dispersion of the Jews around the world.

There is much more we will say on this as we go on into chapter 10, but let me speak briefly about Ham. Ham is given the role of a servant in relation to both of these other families of earth. But, notice carefully, not a servant in the sense of enslavement. That role was limited to the descendants of Canaan. "A slave of slaves," is the Hebrew way of emphasizing, of intensifying a statement. Canaan was to be that, but not the rest of the sons of Ham. However, they were to fulfill a servant relationship, not in the sense of enslavement, but as the practical technicians of humanity. If you study ancient history and technological achievements which were in many ways the equal of, or superior of, much that we have today, were founded and carried to a high technological proficiency by Hamitic people. This is the role in history given by God to the descendants of Ham. The Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Mayans, the Aztecs, all were Hamitic people. They were the great inventors of mankind. It may come as a shock to some, who boast in Aryan superiority and think of Americans as the most inventive people on the earth, to know that almost every basic invention can be traced to the Hamites, rather than to the Japhethites, which we represent. All that Japhethic people do is to develop the philosophy of science and apply technology, but the discovery of these are largely traceable to the Hamitic peoples of the earth.

Now, to bring this introduction of the subject to a conclusion, all of this is reflected most interestingly in the New Testament. We have for instance, the so-called Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), which are very similar to one another and quite different from the gospel of John. Yet Matthew, Mark, and Luke are not copies of one another but they represent differences of approach. It has often been pointed out that they are aimed at different types of people. The interesting thing is that when you inquire who these people are you find that they are Shem, Ham, and Japheth, in that order. Matthew is aimed at the Semitic people. It is the gospel for the Jews, above all others. Mark is clearly the gospel of the servant. This is stressed by Bible teachers whenever they teach Mark; his gospel is profoundly the presentation of the servant, the practical mind, the Hamitic mind. Luke is clearly aimed at the Greek, or the Japhethic mind.

It is also interesting that three groups are recorded in the New Testament as specifically coming to seek the Lord Jesus. They are: the shepherds, the Wise men, and the Greeks. Here you have again the order: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The shepherds were Israelites, Semitic. Most Bible scholars feel that the Magi, the Wise men from the East, were really not from the East (that was a general term) but from Arabia, and represent the Hamitic peoples. The Greeks are clearly Japhethites. So there again, always in the same order, we have Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Also, the gospel, was first preached in this order. In the book of Acts we are told that on the day of Pentecost Peter stood up and said, "Ye men of Israel," and addressed the gospel to them. Then in the next section we find Philip called to leave a revival in Samaria and go down to preach to a single individual in the desert, who is a Hamite, an Ethiopian, the treasurer of Ethiopia. Then, a little bit later on, Peter is sent to the Japhethites, preaching the gospel to Cornelius, a centurion of Rome.

Furthermore, all three of these groups are represented at the crucifixion. Each branch of mankind took part in the crucifixion. The moral responsibility for it fell upon the Jews. It is they who said, "His blood be upon us and. upon our children." The physical burden of bearing the cross fell upon a Hamite, Simon of Cyrene, a stranger in Jerusalem who was impressed into the task of bearing the cross for our Lord on the Via Dolorosa, Finally, as you know, executive responsibility for the crucifixion rested with the Romans, who gave the official order for the death of our Lord.

Now we shall see much more of this in chapter 10, but I think this is enough to show how accurately the Bible previews history, and how it deals realistically with these matters. There are often hidden in trace them, carry us into vast and exciting fields of discovery. we have looked at enough to confirm to us this fact: that the race, the whole race, is but the individual written large. There are three divisions of mankind, as there are three divisions in man, in you. To each of these divisions is given the responsibility for meeting one of the basic needs of man, spiritual, physical, and intellectual. In each one of us these same three divisions are found. We each have a capacity to worship; we each have a capacity to reason; and each has a capacity to create. These are the things that distinguish us from the animals. This is the image of God in man. Each of them needs to be held in perfect balance. The world is in a state of confusion, uncertainty and despair because the balance God intended has been left unfulfilled, so, in your individual life you are in a state of confusion, despair, frustration, weakness, or whatever it may be, because you have neglected to fulfill the three-fold capacities of your own nature. You can only do so as they are kept in perfect harmony, one with the other.

It is wrong to think of man as essentially spiritual. He is also intellectual and physical. It is wrong to think of him as being essentially physical, and to develop the athletic abilities to the neglect of the others; he is also spiritual and intellectual. The interesting thing is that in the Bible the intellectual is put last. If the order of scripture obtains for the individual as well as for the race, the order within us is also Shem, Ham, and Japheth. First the spiritual, then the physical, then the intellectual. In that order mankind finds its complete fulfillment. If we understand ourselves we will also understand the world around us. The glory of the gospel is that it addresses itself to mankind exactly on those terms. We find ourselves entering into fulfillment, into excitement, into a dramatic sense of being what we were intended to be, when we open our lives to God through Jesus Christ, making that our first priority; then developing the physical life, taking care of physical needs, physical demands; and through these two working together, developing the intellect to an understanding of ourselves..."


Notes on the Table of Nations by Ray C. Stedman

Chapter 10 of Genesis is a record of how mankind fanned out over all the earth, like spokes in a wheel, radiating from a center which both science and Scripture place in the Middle East. The Middle East has been called, "the cradle of civilization," or "the cradle of mankind." We are now dealing with the days immediately following the Flood, when the sons of Noah became the heads of three major divisions or families of mankind. In this chapter we learn how they spread throughout the earth. We have already studied the prophetic utterance of Noah concerning the contribution his three sons and their descendants would make to humanity.

We saw that to Shem was given the religious primacy of mankind. The Semitic peoples are responsible, under God, to develop the spiritual life of mankind. It is not surprising, therefore, that from the Semitic peoples have come the three major religions of earth: Judaism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity. To Ham was given the art of technical proficiency. The Hamitic people are the technicians of mankind, showing an amazing adaptability to the world in which they live. To Japheth was given intellectual enlargement, and the widest geographical distribution of the three families. History has long since confirmed abundantly this distribution of mankind, exactly as the Bible says...This is the kind of chapter that requires careful and exhaustive study, but I shall merely attempt a quick survey, pausing where Moses, the author of Genesis, also pauses to make comment on certain names that appear in this section. These are important comments and we need to understand why Scripture suddenly turns the spotlight upon certain individuals.

The division begins with Japheth and his descendants,

These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth; sons were born to them after the flood.

The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the sons of Japheth in their lands, each with his own language, by their families, in their nations. {Genesis 10:1-5 RSV}

This division of the chapter, centering on Japheth, is the shortest, yet to us in many ways it is the most important, because it is to this family of mankind that most of us belong. We are Japhethites and we find this of intense interest, although the Scripture spends the least time with it.

Those who study races and peoples are known as ethnologists, and one of the tools of ethnology is to trace the persistence of names through history. Some of these place names and names of individuals persist for a long time through the course of human events, and form a kind of peg or nail upon which we can hang certain important movements in history and by which we can trace certain developments. We can do this with many of the names in this passage. Letters may be transposed, endings added, prefixes taken away or added, but there is a basic root which persists for years and even centuries of the time, and these give us a way of tracing the spread of the peoples of earth.

The family of Japheth is essentially what we call the Aryans. Hitler made much of the Aryan race, claiming that the Germans were pure Aryans and the rest were mongrels. Of course, the Jews were of a completely different family. He was right about that, for the Jews are Semitic (from Shem) while the Aryans are from Japheth. But where Hitler made his mistake (and where many people today make a mistake) is to fail to differentiate between differences which exist between people and a supposed superiority. Because people are different is no sign that they are inferior or superior. This is one of the basic things we need to understand in studying the peoples of the earth.

Early in the history of the world, the Japhethites, or Aryans, split into two groups. One group settled in India and the other group in Europe. Together they form what is known as the "Indo-European" family of nations. Any ethnographer is familiar with these divisions, but they are the same basic stock. The next time you visit India you should realize that you are visiting your cousins in the same basic family. The interesting thing is that both of these divisions, the Indian and the European, trace their ancestry back to Japheth. This is not from the Bible, but from history:

The Greeks say that their ancestor was a man named Japetos, and you can see in that the resemblance to Japheth. They regarded him as not only the father of their race, but the father of all humanity. The Indians, on the other hand, have an account of the flood similar in many respects to the Biblical account. The name of their hero is not Noah, but Satyaurata, and he had three sons. The name of the oldest was Iyapeti (you can see Japheth in that, very easily), and the other two were Sharma, and C'harma (Shem and Ham). The interesting thing about the Indian account is that C'harma was cursed by his father because he laughed at him when he got drunk, a certain echo of the story we have in Genesis.

You see from this how this chapter is embedded in history. The Word of God is dealing with realistic matters when it traces these divisions.

We learn here that Japheth had seven sons, but only two of them are traced for us in any detail: The first son was Gomer. From this word, Gomer, by a process of elision and transposition of letters, there came the word, Gaul, or Gallic. These are the people, interestingly enough, to whom the New Testament Epistle to the Galatians is written. The Galatians were Gauls. Most of us have a Gallic or Celtic (or Celtic) ancestry, and the Gauls and Celts (or Celts) were descendants of Gomer. They migrated to the north and settled in Spain, France and in Britain. From these Gauls come most of the early families of Western Europe and, consequently, of the Americas as well.

The oldest son of Gomer was Ashkenaz. He and his descendants first settled around the Black Sea and then moved north into a land which is called Ascenia, and which later became known as the Islands of Scandia, which we now know as Scandinavia. You can trace a direct link between Ashkenaz and Scandinavia. Another of the sons of Gomer was Riphath. Although we do not know too much about Riphath, we do know that he located in Central Europe, and some scholars feel that the word, Europe, itself comes from this name, Riphath. Another son is Togarmah. This name is easily traced. He was the ancestor of the present-day Turks and Armenians, who also migrated northward into Southern Germany. Certain scholars have felt that the word, Germany, derives from the word, Togarmah. If you drop the first syllable you have the basic root of Germany.

Two others of the sons of Japheth were Madai and Javan. These are easily recognizable in history: The Madai became the Medes, of the famous Medes and Persian Empire. Javan is unquestionably the ancestor of the Greeks. His name, Javan, is still found in Greece in the form of Ionia. The Ionic Sea and Ionian Peninsula all derive from this word Javan. His sons were Elishah, from which we get the Greek word, Helles (the Greeks are still called Hellenes), and Tarshish, whom most scholars associate with Spain; Kittim, which is the Island of Cyprus; and Dodanim, who settled around the Black Sea, and still finds a modern parallel in the word, the Dardanelles. These can all be traced by the geographical titles and place names they left behind.

Next is the family of Ham, which is the family gifted with technical proficiency. Because of the great adaptability of these people to primitive conditions, the Hamites became the great pioneers of mankind. All the early civilizations were Hamitic: the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Sumerians. These were the people most able to adapt themselves to the conditions they found wherever they settled. We owe a great deal to the Hamitic nations. Later on, these lands were occupied by Japhethic nations, and at the present day the entire Western hemisphere is peopled by Japhethic rather than Hamitic nations, though it was once the other way around.

We shall take the family of Ham in two sections, briefly commenting on certain items:

The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord." The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria, and built Nineveh, RehobothIr, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. Egypt became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (whence came the Philistines), and Caphtorim. (Genesis 10:6-14 RSV}

The four sons of Ham are relatively easy to trace in history: Cush is associated with the peoples of Southern Arabia and Ethiopia. Ethiopians still trace their ancestry back to Cush. Egypt is self explanatory. Egypt (or Mizraim in Hebrew, an ancient name for Egypt) became the father of the Egyptian Empire, settling in the Nile Valley. Put is associated with Lydia, on the west of Egypt, in North Africa. Canaan centered largely in and around Palestine, though the Canaanites later became much more widespread, as this account tells us further on.

The account zooms in on an individual named Nimrod, who is called a great hunter. He is a rather mysterious figure, of great importance in ancient history. He is the founder, as we are told, of both Babylon and Nineveh, the two great cities of antiquity which ultimately became enemies of Israel. The prominent thing said about him here is that he was a mighty man, "a mighty hunter before the LORD." Now it was the work of kings in those ancient days to be hunters. This was a time when civilization was sparse and wild animals were a constant threat to the peoples. Kings, having nothing much else to do, organized hunting parties and acted as the protectors of their people by killing wild animals. Nimrod evidently gained a great reputation as such a hunter, but he was more than a hunter of wild animals. The Jewish Talmud helps us here, for it says that he was "a hunter of the souls of men." By the founding of Babylon and Nineveh we have a hint given of the nature of this man. We are told here that he was "the first mighty man on earth," i.e., after the Flood. That phrase, "mighty man," takes us back to Genesis 6 where, in that strange story of the invasion of the "sons of God" into the human race, there resulted a race of giants called Nephilim. We are told that, "these were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown." This was evidently a demonic invasion of the race, with sexual overtones, which brought into being a race of giants that were morally degraded. These also appear later on in the Canaanite tribes. We have found this suggestive line of thought running through the Scriptural account up to this point. It now suggests that Nimrod was one of these "mighty men," and therefore introduced a perverted, degraded form of religion into the world. It began at Babylon, spread to Nineveh, and can be traced in history as it subsequently spread throughout the whole of the earth. Thus, in this man Nimrod, we have the seed of idolatry and false religion coming in again after the Flood.

If you drop the first consonant of Nimrod's name and take the others -- M, R, D -- you will have the basic root of the god of Babylon, whose name was Marduk, and whom most scholars identify with Nimrod. In the Babylonian religion, Nimrod (or Marduk) held a unique place. His wife was Semiramis. (Some of you who have been at Cairo have stayed at the Semiramis Hotel, which is named after her.) Marduk and Semiramis were the ancient god and goddess of Babylon. They had a son whom Semiramis claimed was virgin-born, and they founded the mother and child cult. This was the central character of the religion of ancient Babylon, the worship of a mother and child, supposedly virgin born. You can see in this a clever attempt on the part of Satan to anticipate the genuine virgin birth and thus to cast disrepute upon the story when the Lord Jesus would later be born into history. This has been the effect of it.

This ancient Babylonian cult of the mother and child spread to other parts of the earth. You will find it in the Egyptian religion as Isis and Osiris. In Greece it is Venue and Adonis and in Hindu it is Ushas and Vishnu. The same cult prevails in various other localities. It appears in the Old Testament in Jeremiah, where the Israelites are warned against offering sacrifices to "the Queen of Heaven." This Queen of Heaven is Semiramis, the wife of Nimrod, the original mother of the mother and child cult. The cult has also crept into Christianity and forms the basis for the Mariolatry that has prevailed in Roman Catholic Church, where the Mother and Child are worshiped as joint redeemers.

If you would like to read more on this, there is a book by Alexander Hislop, a very authoritative writer in this field, called The Two Babylons. I am sure you will find it of great interest if you desire to pursue this further.

This idolatrous religion culminates at last in the Bible in the book of Revelation. You remember the "great harlot" that appears there whose name is "Mystery Babylon the Great," the originator of all the harlotries and false religions of earth. The essence of Babylonianism, as we understand from Scripture, is the attempt to gain earthly honor by means of religious authority. That is Babylonianism, and it has pervaded Christian churches, Hindu temples, Buddhist shrines, and Mohammedan mosques. Everywhere it is the element that marks falseness in religion, this attempt to gain earthly power and prestige by means of religious authority. That is Babylonianism. That is what Nimrod began and what God will ultimately destroy, as we read in the book of Revelation.

The land of Shinar, mentioned here, is also the land of Shunar or Shumar, from which we get the word, Sumeria, and the Sumerian civilization, with which scholars are familiar. The city of Resen was founded by people who later migrated into the north of Italy and began the great Etruscan Empire, which again is familiar to any who study ancient history. We also have here the countries that came from Egypt and are associated with it here, all of which are countries of North Africa.

One further note on this section: Note that the Philistines, which appear frequently elsewhere in the Old Testament, are linked with the Egyptians. This is significant, for Egypt in the Bible is always a picture of the world; the Philistines are a picture of the flesh in its religious aspect, religious flesh or Pharisaism, if you like. These are forever typified by these two nations. The second section of the sons of Ham centers on the descendants of Canaan,

Canaan became the father of Sidon his first-born, and Heth, and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. These are the cons of Ham, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations. {Genesis 10:15-20 RSV}

In a previous message we saw that these constituted the Canaanite tribes which occupied the land of Palestine at the time of Abraham. They were a morally degraded people, and were that as a result of demonic invasion. That does not mean that every individual was demonically possessed, but there was considerable experience of this among these people. We must note certain individuals in this listing, but not all:

Sidon is mentioned as the first-born of Canaan. He founded the city by the same name, located near Tyre, on the coast of Phoenicia. Since there is no mention of Tyre here we can see how early this account is. Heth is the father of the Hittite nation. The Hittites were once regarded by archaeologists as a biblical blunder. Archaeologists said the Bible was absolutely wrong when it mentioned the Hittites, for there was no such people. But since that time, Hittite relics have been discovered in abundance, and scholars are now well aware of the great civilization that flourished under the Hittites. The Hebrew form of this word, Hittite, is Khettai and from this comes the word Cathay, which many of you will recognize as an ancient name for China. Certain of the Hittites migrated eastward and settled in China. Also, another name in this list, the Sinites, is linked with China. It derives from a presumed son of Canaan whose name was Sin. The Sinites migrated eastward until they came into Western China, where they founded the ancient Empire of China and gave their name to the land. There is a direct connection between the word China and the word Sinim, the biblical name for China. (I remember reading as a boy of the Sino-Japanese War, showing how the ancient name still persists.) They pushed eastward and toward the north over the land bridge into Alaska. The Sinites are the people who settled the Americas in prehistoric days and became the ancestors of the Eskimos and Indians who, to this very day, betray their Mongoloid ancestry.

Now the third family that is traced here is Shem:

To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder bother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem: Elam Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. To Eber was born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan. Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobah; all these were the sons of Joktan. The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. These are the sons of Shem, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.
{Genesis 10:21-32 RSV}

The noteworthy thing said here is that:

Shem was the father of the children of Eber. Actually, Eber was a great-grandson of Shem, but from Eber comes the word Hebrew. Abraham, who was really the founder of the Hebrew nation, was six generations beyond Eber. Yet Eber is of such note that Abraham is identified as an Eberite, or Hebrew.

Elam, the next son of Shem, is associated with Southern Mesopotamia. Archaeologists have now found that the earliest inhabitants of this area were Semites, not Hamites, as they once thought. Asshur is the one who gave his name to Assyria. The genealogy closes with Eber's two sons, Peleg and Joktan.

The tribes listed as from Joktan are all associated with Arabia. The boundaries of Mesha and Sephar given here are both within the Arabian Peninsula. Our main interest, however, centers on Peleg and this cryptic comment made about him, "in his days the earth was divided." What do you think that means?  Peleg in Hebrew, means "Division," but in Greek it means "Sea." We get our present English word archipelago from this: archi-pelagos, the first sea. The Greeks called the Aegean Sea "The Archipelago," the first sea, drawing the name from this man, Peleg.

There is some evidence to link this with the scientific theory of continental drift; the idea that once the continents were bound together in one great land mass, but sometime in the past they separated and began to drift apart until the Americas came to their present location, Australia slid down into the south, Antarctica still further south, and the continents assumed the present distribution of land mass on the earth. Some have suggested that this may have occurred as late as the days of Peleg, immediately following the Flood. Perhaps the great rift valleys of Africa and Asia had not yet formed, and, in Peleg's day, these drew apart so that the seas broke into this inner world and formed the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Dead Sea. This would be the formation of the first sea, from which we get the word archipelago.

There are many geologists, of course, who would raise questions about this, for they would say this is far too late in history for anything like that to have occurred. The account here is much too brief for us to be dogmatic about this, but it is very suggestive.

If this were the case, it may well have been that the American continent was still in view of Europe and Asia in those days, and that as it moved westward gradually disappeared from the horizon. This gave rise to the many myths and stories about a lost continent called Atlantis which disappeared beneath the Atlantic. There are many interesting threads here that we would love to follow.

Now we must come to the explanation of the title I have chosen for this sermon, God's Funnel.  A funnel is an instrument or device for narrowing a flow of liquid or powder from a wide expanse to a narrow one. That is what God is doing here in Genesis 10. Shem is put last of the sons of Noah because God is narrowing the flow of sacred history down to the Semitic races. Shem is the neck of the funnel. God is restricting the stream of humanity that he will deal with personally and directly down to one family group, the family of Shem. In Chapter 11, Verse 10 on to the end of the chapter, he takes this up again and narrows it still further to one man, Abraham. From there it begins to broaden out again to take in Abraham and all his descendants, both physical and spiritual. The rest of the Bible is all about the children of Abraham, physically and spiritually. Here we have then one of the most important links in understanding the Bible.

Why does God do this? He has been accused of showing favoritism in picking the people of Israel for his link with humanity. But it is not that. God is no respecter of persons, as we are told. He does this because it is necessary in view of the limitations of our minds, not of his. No one man can grasp the whole widespread, varied, world of mankind. We cannot do so even today. At election time we take polls to determine what people are thinking, because we cannot grasp or assimilate in any way what the entire mass of a people are thinking. We must take polls, samples. God is doing this with Israel. Israel becomes the sample nation, the sample people. Through the rest of the Bible, whatever is true of Israel is true of everyone; their story is our story -- your story and my story. Their stubborn rebellion is the same rebellion that we display, and their spiritual blessing under God is the same kind that we can expect if we open ourselves to respond to the grace of God. One fact comes drumming through all this otherwise dry genealogy: that is that God is seeking somehow to break through into our hearts and wills. He presses upon us in great historic sweeps and in the minor incidents that happen to each of us.

The great question we must raise in a service like this is:  Are you listening? Are you getting the message God wants you to get?

He writes it large upon the landscape of history, and also he writes it small in the incidents of your daily life. But in every case it is the same truth pressing through to us. God is essential to us. We cannot live without God. You cannot fulfill yourself, you cannot find yourself without him. He loves you, is seeking you, wants you, and is drawing you to himself. Forever this finds its confirmation in all of life around us. --from Ray C. Stedman, The Beginnings.

Notes on the Sons of Noah by Henry M. Morris

...Finally, it was the sin of Ham (not Canaan) that had served as the occasion for his father's curse, and it would have been inappropriate for Noah thus to single out only one of Ham's four sons as bearing the burden of the curse. Therefore, it seems necessary to understand this as a Hamitic, rather than Canaanitic, curse, with Canaan mentioned specifically in order to stress that the terms of the prophecy extended to all of Ham's sons, even his youngest. In the context of the immediate situation, it may also have been a reaction to Noah's hurt; that is, as Noah's youngest son had brought grief to his own heart, so he especially singled out Ham's youngest son in his prophecy. [I do not agree with Dr. Morris on this interpretation, LTD]

Assuming, however, that the curse did apply to the Hamitic peoples in general, what was its meaning and how has it been fulfilled? "A servant of servants shall he be to his brethren" can hardly mean "a slave of slaves," because such a situation has never occurred among the descendants of any of Ham's four sons, including Canaan. The descendants of Ham included the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, and other great nations of the past; and there is a good possibility they include some of the great Asiatic nations of the present as well.

Unfortunately, there have been some interpreters who have applied the Hamitic curse specifically to the Black peoples, using it to justify keeping the black man in economic servitude or even slavery. It is obvious, however, that the prophecy applies not only to black Africans but also to all other descendants of Ham (most of whom are not blacks), and no more of the Hamitic peoples have experienced such servitude during their history than the non-Hamitic peoples.

If "servant of servants" does not mean "lowest slave," then what does it mean? Although the word "servant" is used frequently in the Old Testament, this is the only place where "servant of servants" occurs. In the next two verses, Noah predicted that Canaan would be both "servant" to Shem and "servant" to Japheth. In other words, the nations descended from Ham would be servants not only to one other nation or one other group of nations, but to all other nations. This unique and worldwide "service" is probably in part what is meant by the superlative "servant of servants."

It might be objected, however, that the Hamitic nations have never been under worldwide subjugation to the Japhethic and Semitic nations (neither, for that matter, have the Canaanites alone). In answer to this objection, it may be noted that a servant is not necessarily a slave. In fact, the word is used much more often to refer to one who has the position of "steward," a very honorable position in a household, rather than to one who is a slave.

This, in fact, is the first mention of the word "servant" in the Bible and, as such, undoubtedly has special significance. In a sense, it may be prophetic of Christ, who was in the fullest degree made to be a servant of servants for all the world, bearing the curse for us (Philippians 2:6-8; Galatians 3:10, 13).

There is one other possibility, which does seem to fit all the facts of the case. If "servant" in this case means "steward," then the prediction becomes one of material service to mankind. Man in general is God's steward over the physical world and its processes, as well as its living creatures. Because of man's sin, the ground had already come under God's "curse" (Genesis 3:17); and man was from then on to develop and utilize its resources for the sustenance of life "in the sweat of his face." However, man still had the responsibility of subduing and exercising dominion over the earth and its creatures (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:6-9), a responsibility which demanded first of all that he seek to understand his dominion. This would require intellectual effort, research, knowledge, and everything that is involved in the term "science," as well as "philosophy."

The greatest of man's responsibilities, however, was to fill the earth, not only with physical descendants (Genesis 1:28; 9:1) but "with the knowledge of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). He was to teach men to "call upon the name of the Lord" (Genesis 4:26), preserving and transmitting the promises of God until the coming of the world's Redeemer.

Mankind thus had three fundamental types of duties to perform as God's steward over the world: (1) spiritual receiving, preserving, and teaching the knowledge of the word of God; (2) intellectual expanding and teaching the knowledge of the world of God; and (3) physical providing the material means for man's bodily needs and comforts, thus enabling him to fulfill his intellectual and spiritual functions more effectively. These three duties correspond, in fact, to the tripartite nature of man: spirit, soul, and body.

Every person has, to some degree, all three capacities, but in each person one usually dominates. That is, some people are dominated by physical considerations, some by intellectual, some by spiritual. The same generalization applies to nations: some have historically been primarily motivated by religious considerations, some by philosophical and scientific thinking, others by materialistic (or so-called practical) pursuits.

It is therefore very significant that these first three progenitors of all modern nations were recognized by their father to have characteristics representing these three emphases. Shem was mainly motivated by spiritual considerations, Japheth by intellectual, and Ham by physical; and the same would be true (in a very general way, of course) of the nations descending from them, by reasons of both genetic inheritance and parental example.

Each was regarded as God's servant Shem in spiritual service and Japheth in intellectual service. Ham, responsible for physical service, was thus a "servant of servants," serving both Shem and Japheth, who were also servants. He would provide the physical means (food, clothing, shelter, weapons, machinery, transportation, technological inventions, and equipment of all kinds) which would enable his brothers to carry out their spiritual and mental responsibilities toward mankind and toward God. In this way, Ham also would be serving God.

Since, however, Ham would be concerned more directly than the others with the "ground which the Lord hath cursed" (Genesis 5:29), the great Curse would be felt more directly by him than by the others. In this sense, the Hamitic responsibility was itself a "curse," even though his duties were absolutely necessary for the accomplishment of God's purposes in mankind. This prediction by Noah was, of course, a Spirit-inspired prophecy (not an imprecation born of Noah's resentment), appropriate to the nature of Ham and his sons, and concerned, as it has shown itself to be, mainly with physical considerations.

Assuming...that we can identify fairly well the Semitic nations (Jews, Arabs, Syrians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, etc.) and the Japhethic nations (Indo-Europeans), then by process of elimination all others are Hamitic. The Hamites, in general, have been largely unconcerned with either science, philosophy, or theology, and have been occupied largely with material pursuits. They have often been great inventors and technologists, as well as hard laborers on farms and hard fighters in battle.

Descendants of Ham included the Egyptians and Sumerians, who founded the first two great empires of antiquity, as well as other great nations such as the Phoenicians, Hittites, and Canaanites. The modern African tribes and the Mongol tribes (including today the Chinese and Japanese), as well as the American Indians and the South Sea Islanders, are probably dominantly Hamitic in origin.

Among the many ways in which the Hamites have been the great "servants" of mankind are the following:

(I) They were the original explorers and settlers of practically all parts of the world, following the dispersion at Babel.

(2) They were the first cultivators of most of the basic food staples of the world, such as potatoes, corn, beans, cereals, and others, as well as the first ones to domesticate most animals.

(3) They developed most of the basic types of structural forms and building tools and materials.

(4) They were the first to develop most of the usual fabrics for clothing and the various sewing and weaving devices.

(5) They discovered and invented a wide variety of medicines and surgical practices and instruments.

(6) They invented most of the concepts of basic practical mathematics, as well as surveying and navigation.

(7) The machinery of commerce and trade money, banks, postal systems, and so forth was developed by them.

(8) They developed paper, ink, block printing, movable type, and other accouterments of writing and communication.

If one traces back far enough, he will find that practically every other basic device or system needed for man's physical sustenance or convenience originated with one of the Hamitic peoples! Truly they have been the "servants" of mankind in a most amazing way.

Yet the prophecy had an obverse side as well. The Hamites have usually been able to go only so far with their explorations and inventions, and no farther. The Japhethites and Semites have, sooner or later, taken over their territories and their inventions, and then developed and utilized them to their own advantage in accomplishing their own "service" to mankind. Sometimes the Hamites, especially the Blackes, have even become actual slaves to the others. Possessed of a genetic character concerned mainly with mundane, practical matters, they have often eventually been displaced by the intellectual and philosophical acumen of the Japhethites and the religious zeal of the Semites.

These very general and broad national and racial characteristics obviously admit of many exceptions on an individual genetic basis. Furthermore, it is obvious that the prophecy is a divine description of future facts, in no way needing the deliberate assistance of the Semites or Japhethites for its accomplishment. Neither Blackes nor any other Hamitic people is intended to be forcibly subjugated on the basis of this Noahic declaration. The prophecy would be fulfilled because of innate genetics and divine leading, not by virtue of any artificial constraints imposed by man.

Having predicted Ham's primary relationship to the cursed ground, along with his material responsibilities to mankind, Noah turned his attention to his next son, Shem. Not only by his action of filial respect, but apparently also by a character of life closely observed by his father, Shem had long indicated his love for the Lord God and his faith in God's promises.

Noah therefore knew that God's spiritual blessings would especially rest on Shem, and so exclaimed: "Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem!" Shem knew the Lord personally, in his covenant relationship, and so knew Him by the name Jehovah. This strongly implies, even though it is not explicitly stated, that it was through Shem that God's greatest blessing for mankind, the promised Seed of the woman, would eventually come into the world. Shem would not be prevented from transmitting God's spiritual blessings to mankind through future opposition by Canaan and the other sons of Ham, for indeed Canaan would be his "servant," helping him to accomplish it.

Finally coming to Japheth, Noah prophesied that Japheth would be "enlarged" and that the Hamites would also be of service to him in this function. Pathah, the Hebrew word used here, is not the usual word for "enlarged" and is so translated only in this one instance. It apparently does not refer to a geographical enlargement, for which the Hebrew rachab would have been suited (actually both Semites and Hamites have spread geographically as far as the Japhethites).

The word is usually translated "entice" or "persuade." However, in the particular form in which it occurs in this verse, it occurs only this once; and translators have been unanimous in rendering it "be enlarged." It is apparently derived from the word "to make open" (Hebrew pathach).

It seems most probable, putting all this together, that the thought here is one of mental enlargement. If one is "persuaded" or "enticed," his previous opinions have been altered, he has changed his mind, or "opened" his mind. Japheth was an open-minded man, and so would be his descendants. The Japhethites would be intellectually curious, explorers in the world of thought, as Ham would be in the physical realm and Shem in the spiritual.

Not only would Japheth be intellectually enlarged, but he would also "dwell in the tents of Shem." This is a common figure of speech meaning "have fellowship with him." Thus "dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psalm 84:10) means "live in wickedness, out of fellowship with God." Japheth would not literally live in the same tents (same word as "tabernacles") with Shem, but he would come to share in Shem's inheritance that is, his spiritual blessings, which constituted the essence of Shem's inheritance as prophesied by Noah. Though Shem would be the means of mankind's receiving God's great spiritual promises, Japheth also would appropriate these blessings to himself by enjoying fellowship with Shem. As Shem and Japheth had unitedly shown respect to their father and their father's God, so they would unitedly worship "the' Lord God of Shem." The Hamites, on the other hand, by implication would not do so, but would presumably follow other gods of their own devising. Nevertheless, Ham's "service" would contribute to the purpose of the true God for all men.

Although Noah's threefold prophecy has been abundantly fulfilled in general and in principle throughout history, it surely allows for individual exceptions. That is, a particular descendant of Ham may be very spiritually minded and become a fruitful servant of the true God. A particular descendant of Japheth may be dull of mind while skilled in technological devices. A particular Semite may be an atheist.

In general, however, it has been true throughout history that the Semites have been dominated by religious motivations centered in monotheism (the Jews, the Moslems, the Zoroastrians, etc.). The Japhethites (especially the Greeks, Romans, and later the other Europeans and the Americans) have stressed science and philosophy in their development. The Hamites (Egyptians, Phoenicians, Sumerians, Orientals, Africans, etc.) have been the great pioneers that opened up the world to settlement, to cultivation, and to technology.

Each stream of nations has influenced the others, of course, and there has been much mixing of peoples from different tribes and nations; so there may well be many apparent exceptions to the general trends. But it is possible to discern these general trends, and they do follow the prophetic pattern outlined thousands of years ago by father Noah. The Semites have been predominant in theology, the Japhethites in science and philosophy, the Hamites in technology.

Note that these three streams of nations are not three "races." Though some have thought of the Semites, Japhethites, and Hamites as three races (say, the dusky, the white, and the black races or the Mongoloid, Caucasian, and Black), this is not what the Bible teaches, nor is it what modern anthropology and human genetics teach. There are dusky and black people found among all three groups of nations. The Bible does not use the word "race" nor does it acknowledge such a concept. The modern concept of "race" is based on evolutionary thinking. To the evolutionist, a race is a subspecies in the process of evolving into a new species, and this idea is the basis of modern racism..." --Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings, Creation-Life Publishes, San Diego, 1976.

Family Tree of the Patriarchs of Israel




(Genesis 11:27)




(by Hagar 16:15)

(by Sarah 21:3)


Seven others



(11:29, 31)











 by Leah

  by Rachel

by Bilhah

 by Zilpah


Judah Issachar Zebulan








Mannesseh Benjamin


Original Notes

Noah lived 350 years after the flood and Shem 500 years. The date of the flood appears to be ~3600-3000 BC based on few gaps in the family tree leading from the First to the Second Adam. Barry Setterfield's Chronology places the Flood date as 3526 BC.

The confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel occurred not long after the flood, (~100 yrs). The world population at that time may only have been only 2000-10,000 persons (Henry Morris, Genesis). The nations then scattered from Babylon. Continents separated in the time of Peleg, about 150-530 yrs after the Flood. Possibly, the Ice age followed continental division.

*For a thorough analysis see A. C. Custance, Noah's Three Sons, Doorway Papers, Zondervan, 1975. Online.

See also After the Flood, by Bill Cooper.

by Gerhard F. Hasel, late Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology, Andrews University.

Excellent article: The Table of Nations and the Origin of Nations by Tim Osterholm.

Notes by Lambert Dolphin 

Lambert's Main Library 
Email Lambert Dolphin
Archive for Newsletters

Library Annex (800+ new articles since 2018)  

Help Thyself. No Charge

      Google Custom Search
March 3, 2003. June 17, 2023.